Governorship Election: See Who The States Will Vote For

The presidential election of Saturday, March 28, in which General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC won, is, to say the least, a game-changing happenstance. Apart from a change of baton from the PDP to the APC, the historic outcome of that election will define this Saturday's governorship and Houses of Assembly elections.

Considering Buhari’s landslide victory in Kano, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kaduna and Zamfara states, there is no gainsaying that gubernatorial candidates of the APC in these states could be having easier rides to the government houses of the respective states.

There is general feeling that there may be a bandwagon effect in the voting pattern in the April 11 elections in the affected states. Similarly, the results of the last election equally show that APC is in a comfortable position, having swept the majority votes in five of the six states in the region. Some political pundits, however, believe that the governorship election may not follow the same pattern, especially in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states.

Permutations and Defections
After the presidential election, politicians have been hopping from the PDP to the APC in what is clearly a singular desire to be part of the system and partake in the sharing of the national cake, that is, if it will still be business as usual. Hence, political analysts and, indeed, the populace have been engaging in political permutations of what could occur in states hitherto considered as core PDP strongholds and vice versa for the APC.

Abia State
Mrs Eunice Uzor Kalu, leader of the Reality Organisation in the South-East and mother of former Abia State governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, and her members have joined the APC. This necessitated a high-powered thank you visit from Buhari to Imo State.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo also endorsed APC for Abia. This was contained in a statement signed by Chief Ralph Obioha, Caretaker Committee chairman of Ohanaeze in Enugu.

Abia, however, presents an interesting spectacle, owing to the sharp political division in the state. For the governorship race, it is a straight battle between PDP, APGA and PPA. Sir Chikwe Udensi is of the PPA, while Dr Alex Otti is flying the flag of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) while Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is of the PDP.

Although, the PDP won the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state, the unpopularity of the governor, Dr T.A Orji, may count against the governorship candidate of the PDP. Besides, the clamour for a governor of Ukwa-Ngwa extraction may work in favour of Otti, the former Diamond Bank chief executive. The axis has never produced a governor before, despite having a high population.

Jigawa State
The defection of the deputy governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Mahmud Gumel, and others may have radically altered the political paradigm of the state ahead of the gubernatorial election in the state.

This therefore has given room for the Buhari factor which has become very strong and all-consuming. A new Jigawa is likely to emerge after the coming polls. The issue of emirate dichotomy, the rivalry between Governor Sule Lamido and former Governor Taminu Turaki will have a minimal role to play. The coast is clear for the “Change” hurricane

Kwara State
Senator Gbemisola Saraki and the PDP youth leader, Chief Segun Olawoyin, are the latest in the state to defect from the PDP to the APC.

The Kwara State governorship election is expected to be a three-way affair as the ruling APC, the PDP and Labour Party (LP) are the three major parties out of the 16 parties that fielded candidates for the election. The governorship poll is expected to be the most keenly contested in the history of Kwara State.

The APC has the incumbent Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed as its flag bearer. Senator Simeon Sule Ajibola is for the PDP while Dr Mike Omotosho is flying the flag of Labour Party.

Omotosho, who was the coordinator of the Jonathan Actualisation Movement, one of the support groups for Jonathan’s re-election, dumped the PDP for the LP after losing the House of Representatives ticket during the party’s primary.

However, his entrance into the race has changed the calculations ahead, given the aggressiveness and steam with which he has been campaigning. There is the possibility of a sharing of votes between Ajibola and Omotosho, as the two candidates hail from the same Ekiti local government. Besides, Omotosho’ popularity through empowerment initiatives, sponsored by his foundation, is an added advantage.

Analysts are of the opinion that Governor Ahmed still stands a better chance of emerging victorious, but this is not going to be an easy ride as the PDP is expected to give the party the toughest challenge in line with the party’s determination to wrest the state political leadership from the present ruling oligarchy.

Kaduna State
The PDP has won all governorship polls in the state since 1999. Pundits are of the view that while the PDP is in the best position to retain its seat because of incumbency advantage, the APC is apparently having an edge in terms of popularity.

The governorship candidates of the PDP and the APC, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and Malam Nasir el-Rufa’i, are more noticeable and vocal across Kaduna State. Both candidates have spent the last three months campaigning for votes as the election get closer. Both seem to have similar stances in terms of manifesto.

Zone one (Zaria) and Zone three (Southern Kaduna) senatorial districts used to be the strongholds of the ruling PDP since 1999. In Zone three, it received the overwhelming majority of votes in all the previous elections.

The PDP won more votes in the last presidential elections in Zone 3. Major Gen SBS Biliyock (retd), Ruth Jummai Ango, former member House of Reps and 144 immediate past councillors from eight local government areas have played key roles in this direction.

But Nasir el-Rufai has a popularity following him from when he was FCT minister where he made landmark achievements that are still remembered today.

On his part, Yero inherited the governor’s seat after his boss, Governor Patrick Yakowa, died in an air crash along with former national security adviser, Gen Patrick Azazi.

Niger State
Before last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections, recent developments in Niger State had shown that all was not too well with the ruling PDP in the state. This became more apparent with the recent defection of deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Musa Ibeto, to the APC in the run-up to this election. Adams Erena pulled out with 5,000 critical stakeholders just as the Gbagyi Elders Forum, led by Abubakar M. Bosso, endorsed the APC.

The defeat suffered by Governor Aliyu Babangida himself in his senatorial ambition in the just concluded election was, indeed, the last straw that broke the camel’s back. He lost to an APC candidate, David Umaru.

With these developments, it is very obvious that Niger is already a lost state to the PDP. If not for anything else, Buhari’s victory will further consolidate APC’s hold in the state. If the same voting pattern is recorded in the Saturday’s governorship election, Alhaji Abubakar Bello of APC may very well be on his way to Government House.

Benue State
Benue is another state where there may be an interesting battle between the APC and PDP. The state has been under the control of the PDP since the return of civil rule, but the perceived maladministration of the state by the present government seems to have negatively affected the popularity of the party. This is one state where teachers were owed over one year salaries by the state government.

Pundits had earlier tipped the PDP to retain its number one position in the forthcoming election, given its popularity and spread of structures in the state, especially in the southern senatorial district which has consistently remained in the mainstream party since 1999.

But this view has changed after the pronouncement of Buhari as president-elect and the defeat of the incumbent governor, Gabriel Suswam at the senatorial poll. Unless there is a substantial change in voting pattern, victory is looking the way of APC candidate, Chief Samuel Ortom.

Gen Lawrence Onoja, Chief Agbo Oga and former chief of staff to David Mark are key elements that will have impacts in the election.

Adamawa State
The stake is a bit higher in Adamawa State where former Vice President and former presidential aspirant of the APC for the 2015 election, Atiku Abubakar, calls the shots.

Given the abysmal level of performance of the PDP in the last presidential election where APC swept all the three senatorial seats, one can make a guess that the PDP has lost state.

Although many of the aggrieved PDP chieftains have finally reconciled with Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the PDP candidate, the continued wrangling in his party may affect his chances to garner the required votes as many PDP members have either defected to other parties or made up their minds to vote for candidates of other parties in the governorship election. The defections of Silas Zwingina, Bello Tukur, Ahmed Barata and Dr Idi Hong to APC may yet play a critical role.

Rivers State
In Rivers State, a straight battle line has been drawn between the candidate of the PDP, Nyeson Wike, and Hon Dakuku Peterside of the APC.

Wike has been through a particularly controversial and rancorous political journey to actualise his dreams of occupying the Brick House after Governor Chibuike Amaechi, an Ikwerre man like him.

Wike, a former Minister of state for education, is a burly political pugilist who leaves nothing to chance in his quest for victory. He is from the upland part of the state while the main challenger, Peterside, is from the riverine area which has never produce a governor.

Peterside, a federal lawmaker representing Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro constituency in the House of Representatives, was the commissioner for works during the first tenure of Amaechi. He grew up in Ogoni, where he spent over 10 years and participated in the various Ogoni struggles in 1990, where the Ogoni bill of rights was put in place.

While the fresh victory of his party, APC, may give him an added impetus, the bullish tendencies and grassroots network of Wike may swing the votes. The campaigns in River have largely been keen and violent, with APC claiming recently that as many as 55 of its members had been killed by PDP thugs.

In the March 28 presidential election, the PDP had a moon slide, returning over a million votes for President Jonathan; APC cried foul, alleging that the poll was massively rigged.

Gombe State
The battle for the soul of Gombe is between two accountants: the incumbent governor and the PDP flag bearer, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, and Alhaji Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya of the APC, who was former Governor Danjuma Goje’s commissioner of finance for eight years.

The likelihood of the Buhari factor affecting the chances of Dankwambo is real as the APC got two senators and four House of Representatives’ seats, leaving the PDP with one senator and two members during the March 28 presidential and National Assembly elections.

Dankwambo seems to be having trouble with public perception as many see him as being unwilling to empower the people of the state. This perception is giving him a tough time to convince the electorate to renew his mandate.

Many analysts, however, posit that Yahaya may have an edge over Dankwambo, considering the high number of aggrieved PDP aspirants who, after spending huge sums and ample time, were edged out of the race.

As written by Leadership's Pembi David Stephen


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